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Temp work can be a godsend for students who are short on cash and graduates who are looking to gain work experience. You might be looking for temp work whilst studying at university; you might be looking for holiday work to keep your bank balance in the black; or you might be looking to gain some valuable work experience. Some graduates do temp work whilst they’re hunting for permanent roles; others do it in the hope that it’ll lead to something more permanent within the company.
Either way, it’s a flexible way of earning money whilst you decide what your next move should be. Consequently, despite some of the horror stories you hear about temping, it can really help some students and graduates.
Variety is the spice of life…
One of the bonuses of temp work is that it can help you pick up some crucial work experience, particularly in office-based roles. It can help you build up your confidence and develop communication, admin and I.T. skills.
Another benefit is that it allows you to try out a range of companies in different industries. It can help you develop an idea of where you might want to get a permanent job in the future. Plus, you can make some useful contacts who might give you a heads-up when other permanent job opportunities are coming available.
Of course, as with everything, it’s a mixed bag: you might find some exciting opportunities or you might feel like you’re shut away in an industry that you’re not interested in. Temp work certainly isn’t for everybody. Whilst temping might not be ideal for some graduates, it certainly is useful for students looking to earn some extra cash in the holidays.
Particularly for admin roles, temp work might be an easier way to get your foot in the door of a company, as there is a less rigorous application and recruitment process for temps. Life as a temp, however, can be a precarious one. It’s an uncertain life and there is always a worrying period of time when you come to the end of an assignment, not knowing where you’ll find work next.
Finding temp work…
There are several options open to you. First of all, if you’re looking for holiday work in the summer or at Christmas, start your job hunt early; temp roles can get oversubscribed very quickly.
So where should I look? You could try searching newspapers, job sites, job centres and company websites. Universities also often hold temporary work fairs.
The kind of areas that employ large numbers of temps and seasonal workers tend to be industries such as hospitality, market research, retail, security and manual labour. Administration is another large area for temps. You might want to look for admin roles in industries that interest you, or with companies that you’d like to work for in the future (even if you don’t eventually plan to work in an administrative position).
Aside from looking for temporary work through an agency, you could also do the tried and tested technique of going round businesses in your local area and asking if they need any help. This usually works well if you’re looking for retail, restaurant, café or bar work.
Take copies of your CV and don’t be afraid to ask businesses if they have any opportunities, even if there’s no notice in the window. Also, make sure you tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. Ask friends or family, or broadcast it on Facebook; someone might know of some opportunities that are going. You’ll never know unless you ask!
Using temping agencies…
A large number of temps use temping agencies in their quest for work. You should look for temp agencies that cater for student and graduate roles and you could even try agencies that specialise in providing temps for a particular industry, such as law, media, PR or marketing.
Apply to a range of agencies and be proactive once you’ve signed up. That means establishing a good relationship with your agent, and giving them a call every couple of weeks to check in and see if any opportunities have come up. You want them to think of you straightaway when they’re looking to fill a role, so make sure you’re not just another name on their books.
You might want to prep your CV before sending it to the agency too; making sure you include certain keywords, so you’ll be offered the kind of role you’ll be interested in. Many agencies use a keyword search to find relevant CVs for their roles, so check out our CV buzzwords article for some pointers.
What are my rights?
As an agency worker, you’ll probably be paid on a weekly or daily basis. Always make sure your company is paying you at least the National Minimum Wage that you’re entitled to. Other than that, you unfortunately don’t share some of the other rights enjoyed by your permanent colleagues. That means that you probably won’t get sick leave and your contract can be terminated without notice. On the other hand, you can get holiday leave. Whoop whoop!
All in all, temp work is a good way to earn some cash whilst at university, or it can tide you over while you’re looking for a graduate job. Who knows, it could even lead to a permanent position!